As a kitchen enthusiast, there are certain tools you need to have in your kitchen. One of such tools is the cast iron pan. Cast iron pans have so many benefits, you can’t imagine what you’re missing without a cast iron pan. In this guide, we would be looking at the types of cast iron pans to choose from. Read through this guide to see the types of cast iron pans.
What Is a Cast Iron Pans?
Cast iron is one of the most diverse cooking materials on the planet and has been used in cooking applications since the 5th century B.C.—yes, seriously. Cast iron was also used in all types of ancient weaponry, from cannons and artillery to construction materials and kettles. For literally thousands of years, men have used cast iron to help build the world.
Scientifically, cast iron is a superior cooking material because it’s a very dense, porous metal. What that means in the kitchen is that, while it takes some time to heat up, cast iron excels at getting very hot, heating very evenly, and retaining heat indisputably better than any other cooking material.
Today, cast iron is used most commonly in cookware because it’s comparatively inexpensive (versus other types of cookware), easy to maintain, and can be used anywhere from the stove to the campfire.
There are plenty of cookware companies that specialize in cast iron pans and other pans, pots, and kettles. They come in different shapes and sizes for different applications, but the best thing about them is that no matter how refined or pinpoint-precise their applications are, basic pans can cover most of what you’re cooking, whether it be braising the perfect pork shoulder, searing a thick-cut steak, frying up some chicken, baking the best cornbread of your life, or even handling some Sunday morning pancakes and bacon.
Why Is Cast Iron Better?
We just basically told you that you can probably cook better on 2,500-year-old cookware than most of what you’d get from the fancy high-end stuff you see in all those YouTube videos you’ve been gushing over these last few months.
You may have also read that one bull shit Esquire advice column where the writer says his $150 copper-core non-stick pan can do anything a $15 Lodge pans can (You spelled “Revere Ware” wrong, by the way, you cast iron denying heathen).
In either case, we get it. You’re discerning and smart and skeptical.
But we need there’s a reason why millions of people are still cooking on cast iron 2,500 years after it was first discovered, and why so many people are willing to fight ne’er-do-well Esquire staff in its defense.
If you’re looking for the perfectly seared steak, you haven’t lived until you’ve done it in a cast-iron pan. If you’re looking for the ideal fried egg, cast iron is your answer. If you’re trying to make a creamy salmon piccata that’ll make your fucking toes curl up, cast iron is your diamond in the rough.
What Is “Seasoning” and How Can You Keep Your Cast Iron Pans Clean?
The biggest “issue” people have with cast iron pans and other cast iron cookware is there are a little work and effort, called “seasoning,” that must be put into cleaning, keeping, and maintaining them. It’s nothing crazy, but the fact that most people advise against washing them with dish soap is often enough to give some people a small coronary over it.
Seasoning essentially involves layering the pans in grease or fat and then baking them for a certain period of time. This creates a coating that helps keep the pans looking good, working well, and creates a natural non-stick surface that makes cooking on it a breeze. The best part is, as that seasoning gets added to and baked into the pan, this surface only gets better as time goes on.
Most—almost all—cast iron companies sell their cookware pre-seasoned these days (Who’s going to order pans that might show up rusty?), but it’s also important to keep seasoning your pans once it has arrived. That’s why most manufacturers and astute chefs recommend cooking fatty things on it for the first month or so after you receive it.
It’s also worth noting that fans of cast iron appreciate the fact that they won’t be dealing with any of the harmful chemicals or carcinogens that are believed to melt into and contaminate food, as is the case with the prolonged use of most modern non-stick cookware. If you’re looking for a health-conscious alternative, cast iron is one of the best ways to go.
As far as cleaning your cast iron pans goes, that process is also super simple.
The most important rule to remember is to clean your pans soon after cooking. It doesn’t have to be red hot or anything, but the sooner you clean it, the better.
Start by adding hot water to the pan, and then gently scrubbing it with the coarse side of a sponge, or a specially designed nylon brush. The emphasis here is on scrubbing it gently, so as not to take off any bits or chunks of seasoning. If seasoning does manage to come off in the cleaning process, no worries—you can always just re-season it after.
After that, take some kosher salt and add it to the pan with a little bit of hot water. From there, take a wooden spoon or stiff spatula (Avoid using metal utensils or brushes so you don’t damage the seasoning), and gently scrape away at the bigger bits and pieces of stuck-on food left in the pan.
Then, rinse everything off with some more hot water, and then put it on the stove to dry. You don’t have to get the pan searing hot; just hot enough to dry the leftover water in the pan.
From there, re-season as necessary or, if it’s good to go, take some vegetable oil or shortening and apply a thin coat to the pans before storing.
There are two kinds of cast iron pans;
- the coated or enameled kind
- The uncoated kind
The coated kind does not require seasoning (more on that later) and it can be washed with soap. The coating material that is used on the pans is not hard-wearing and long-lasting so it is liable to cracking and chipping. Furthermore, you cannot use an open flame or extreme heat for coated ones.
Meanwhile, the uncoated kind is not seasoned. Before using this kind of pans, you have to season it first. The process calls for packing the pores of the iron surface of the pan with some kind of animal fat or vegetable grease. As soon as the pan has been seasoned, it will now have a smoother, non-stick surface.
However, the item cannot be washed with soap after the process since it will take away the seasoning.
For example, Vintage cast iron pans are uncoated, but there are also some more contemporary models available that are not uncoated.
There are some of the cons of uncoated cast iron pans. Those are:
- There are people though who choose not to season cast iron pans due to the health benefits it provides.
- An unseasoned pan means the iron will be able to interact with the food being cooked and this offers the nutrients.
- The food also gets plenty of added flavors.
- An uncoated pan cannot be washed with soap
- It can come into contact with acidic foods.
The second thing which you should consider before buying a cast iron pan is its construction.in construction basic things are:
- To examine the way a pan was designed and built.
- Consistency of handle
- To check for lid part
Which Cast Iron Pans Should You Buy?
So, when all is said and done, which cast iron pans is best for you? Well, that question is a little less straightforward than you’re probably thinking. What size are you looking for? Do you have a preferred brand? What budget are you working with? Do you want a flat surface or a grill pan?
Are you looking for enameled or non-enameled? You can buy yourself a brand-spanking new rig, but don’t be surprised when you see a hobbyist crying tears of joy at the local flea market when they snag a 50-year-old Griswold or Vollrath for 20 bucks.
Yes, those people exist; no they aren’t crazy. They’re just taking this as seriously as they should.
Cast iron pans Tips before use:
Now you have bought a cast iron pan so here is the second step on how to use this pan or what are tips to handle a new pan before cooking. Some of the tips which you should follow are:
Wash the pan first
The first step is to wash the new pan in warm, soapy water, and dry it immediately with a soft cloth or paper towel. Do not use harsh cleansers or scrubbers because they disturb its coating.
- Season your pan before use
Cast iron pans should be seasoned before using them. Seasoning is a process of building up a fine layer of fat to make the surface nonstick surface. But now many cast iron pans come “pre-seasoned”, with built-in the non-stick coating.
Before use heat your pan gradually
When you heat up your pan on medium heat before use it will work best. Keep in mind that when you heat up your pan too high its setting and coating will damage
- When cooking with acidic foods be aware.
If the cast iron pans are not thoroughly seasoned, acidic foods like tomatoes, citrus and beans can be tough on it. As the acid can damage light seasoning and lead to staining so the metal can damage the taste of food.
- Never let it stay wet
When you are free from cooking and you have to put it away. You should dry it after washing. Because cast iron is actually a spongy surface and prone to rust. if you don’t dry it thoroughly after washing it, it becomes rusty and ruins the taste of food.
- Fry and Sear in it.
The best way to keep your seasoning maintained? Just use your pan a lot! The more you fry, sear, or bake in it, the better that seasoning will become.
- Place it carefully when you put it away
If you are placing your cast iron pans in a cabinet with other cookware, place a sheet of paper towel or soft cloth between it and other cookware to avoid ruining the finish.
- It should be durable or long-lasting
If your cast iron pans should be long-lasting and durable you should handle it with proper care, then it can last for decades. Many people believe that it becomes strong with age and usage.
With the above guide, you know what to look for, as with regards to the type of cast iron pans to get. Don’t hesitate to get one for yourself.